It's easy to throw yourself into the joy of holiday giving, but you might realize after the fact that you went a little overboard. Holiday shopping doesn’t have to break your budget. As you begin the tradition this year, use these tips to keep the holidays affordable.
Don’t Buy for Everyone on Your List
While kids make a list of requests for Santa, most adults begin with a list of people to buy for as the holidays approach. You might find a few names on your list that you’re unsure about, like your child’s teacher or coach, because they don’t fall into the typical categories of family or friends. For these people, consider a heartfelt gesture rather than whipping out your credit card. They might be more touched by an inexpensive homemade gift or a personalized note from you or your child, and you’ll spread holiday cheer without cutting them off your list.
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Do Set Limits
If your family members have their hearts set on big-ticket gifts, consider a compromise that benefits everyone. Maybe you can afford one large gift that the whole family can enjoy, like a new television or game center. You might find that purchasing a single big-ticket item can sometimes cost less than buying separate moderately-priced gifts.
Do Keep Track as You Go
The best budget in the world won’t help if you don’t abide by it. Save your receipts and tally them after each shopping excursion, so you know what you’ve already spent and how much of your budget remains. Keeping track of holiday spending can help you avoid that “just one more gift” temptation during the final days of shopping.
Don’t Miss Out on Deals
Go online before you start shopping and compare prices for the items you’re looking to buy. Hunt down coupons, too. Your mailbox is probably full of them, so take a good look before throwing them away.
Starting your shopping early can also be a good idea, or even shopping year round. If that game center is on sale in June, why wait and pay top dollar in December? Chances are your loved ones will begin clamoring for something they really want well before the holiday season approaches.
The flip side is waiting until the eleventh hour — if your list isn’t too long. Merchants and retailers often offer last-minute deals as the holidays get closer.
Do Consider Potluck
Holiday spending isn’t just about gifts. There are family meals and gatherings, too, and hosting one can be expensive. For a more thrifty approach, assign invitees an item to bring with them so you don’t have to provide all the food. Ask each guest to bring a holiday favorite to share, whether it's an appetizer or a bottle of bubbly. Keep track of what everyone is contributing so you have all the bases covered. Even if you have to fill in the cracks, you’ll probably spend a lot less than you would have providing the whole meal.